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Empire Records Cult Classic of Late Wave Gen-Xers

Empire Records

Empire Records

When I created this map of Generation X movies from all 50 states I didn’t include the now cult classic EMPIRE RECORDS. The film, which was set in Delaware, was released in 1995. It’s a coming-of-age movie that follows a group of indie record store employees through the course of a day. The employees avoid being sold to a large record store chain, all while learning about each other.

In a piece by Anne Helen Petersen who writes long-form for Buzz Feed (back in the day we called these rare thingies ARTICLES or ESSAYS), she describes EMPIRE RECORDS like this:

“For our generation — a shoulder demographic between Generation X and the millennials — this was one of our movies, a film that managed, however oddly, to capture the ineffable feeling of being a (white, straight) quasi-alienated teenager in a very specific time. But Empire Records was no hit: It grossed a mere $250,000 in its two weeks in release in 1995. With a budget that topped $10 million, it’s not difficult to do the math: Empire Records was an unmitigated, unequivocal flop.Yet like so many artistic disasters that go on to become cult classics, Empire Records flourished when it was ignored. Kids like me saw it in the video store, watched it on cable, found a random VHS copy, and thought the charm was their secret.”

Here is a clip of the movie in case you missed it in 1995. It’s not available on Netflix and or Blu Ray, but you can buy it on Amazon. It stars Renee Zelleweger and Liv Tyler among many others.

Did you see Empire Records? I saw it, but don’t remember much about it. For me it was exactly like Petersen described it: The Breakfast Club in a record store only a lot weirder.

Did the story resonate with you? What other cult classic films belong to Generation X?

Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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1 Comment

  1. Marisa

    Ahhhhh! Empire Records was my favorite movie growing up. I think it was that way for a lot of early Gen Y kids. I had it on VHS, and I have the extended director’s cut on DVD. We spent so many weekends watching that at slumber parties or at friends’ houses. And you could always tell if a boy in your Spanish class was your “soul mate” if he knew how to respond to “What’s with today today?”

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